Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hope – Promises of God

From Genesis 1:1 to the closing sentence of Revelation, we have the promises of God. The Holy Bible is an amazing journey through time. It moves us, inspires us, corrects us, causes us to pause and assess what is important to us. The Holy Bible inspires hope, because we know the promises are not empty words or wishful trappings of an ancient religion, but truth that continues to reveal it's self over and over in our daily lives.

If we took just one promise of God and held it tightly – the power of that one promise would change our life, but God has made hundreds of promises to us!

The hallmark promise of God is His promise of a Savior. Over and over the gospels record not only what Jesus said about being the promised Savior or Messiah, but verified it with the power to perform many miracles. Jesus announced several times to his disciples and Jewish leaders that he would die, but he would raise from the dead. If he were only human, that would be impossible, but since he was the Son of God, that changes everything.

So what about these promises? How do we receive them?

As I began to write this article, I was stumped. I know many promises of God off the top of my head, but what kept bugging me was the receiving the promises. God promised never to leave us or forsake us – but there are times when I feel very forgotten. God promised protection – but sometimes I feel uncertain. God promised prosperity – but I struggle to make ends meet. What is the problem here? Is it God withholding or is it my understanding?

To get the answers – I prayed and asked God, “What's the problem – why do I feel this way when your Word says I have already received the promises through belief in Jesus?” The Lord answered me by reminding me of King David. I know the story of King David, but why was this my answer?

I spent a couple days meditating and reading the story of David. One of the things I realized – Promises are not miracles. Miracles happen immediately—where promises take time to come to pass. In my mind I had them confused.

David was anointed king when he was young – maybe around fourteen or fifteen years old. God did not dispose the current King Saul, but allowed Saul to rule over Israel for another fifteen or so years until he was killed in battle. David did not receive the promise of being king right away, but spent most of those years running from King Saul who wanted him dead. David survived to rule for forty years.

Another story came to me, the story of Abraham. God promised him a son with his wife Sarah, who were both up in years, Abraham about 75 yrs and Sarah 65yrs old when the promise was made, but it took another twenty-five years for that promise to be fulfilled with the birth of Issac. Amazing!

I've since grown in my understanding that God is not in a hurry, but always fulfills His promises at just the right time according to His timetable not ours. So how do we live with what seems like delays? Faith – a confident assurance and patiently waiting. Believe in the goodness of God. He is true to His Word, knowing we are closer today to receiving our promises than we were yesterday.

“Then Abraham waited patiently and he received what God had promised” Hebrews 6:15

Friday, April 12, 2013

Hope – In the Resurrection

Death is the great equalizer, everyone dies. According to the Holy Scriptures “It is appointed once for mankind to die and then the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

One of the core beliefs of Christianity is that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after the crucifixion. Of all the religions of the world, many spiritual leaders were martyred, but only Christianity claims their leader rose from the dead. No other religion would be so bold as to make that claim.

Although people being raised from the dead is not all that uncommon in the Old and New Testaments. It was God's mercy toward people that he used his prophets Elijah and Elisha to raise sons of women. Even the bones of Elisha raised a dead man. (2 Kings 13:20-21). God in the person of Jesus, raised a widow's son, Lazarus, and Jairus' daughter too. Jesus shared his power with his disciples to raise people (Matthew 10:7-8). Later in the spread of the gospel, Jesus' life giving power lived in his people. Peter and Paul, both raised people from the dead.

Hope in the resurrection is what keeps many people going forward in faith, especially in light of the fact that Jesus not only was raised from the dead, but he continue to minister to people afterward. He appeared first to a couple of disciples and then to a larger group. He sat down and ate with them, proving that he was no ghost or apparition. They touched him and put their fingers in the wounds from the crucifixion. He stayed with them for another forty days before he went back to heaven. (Acts 1:3-4)

The hope in the resurrection – is the promise of new life now and eternal life in the future, because our lives have purpose and meaning. The first blessing of the resurrection in new life in Christ – we are born again when we believe in Him. Second blessing of the resurrection comes as we pass from this physical life, we have a few things to look forward to. First, we get to see Jesus! (John 14:3) Second, we will rule and reign with him (Revelation 20:4). Third, we will have a perfect bodies that will never age, become diseased or die ever again.(1 Corinthians 15:42, 2 Corinthians 5:1-6) Forth, we will live again on earth for a thousand years with Christ (Revelation 20:6) and then the promise of a new heaven and new earth forever living in peace.(Revelation 21:1-4).

Have you considered what the resurrection of Jesus really means? If Jesus did not raise from the dead then everything he said was a lie and we are still under judgment for our sins. Scary thought! But I praise God because I know it was not a hoax or a made up story. Jesus conquered death for all of us. His blood brought us mercy and forgiveness because we believe.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son. Whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life” John 3:16

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Please welcome my next guest blogger, Joseph Lalonde. He has joined me this month and has graciously written a post on the topic of Hope, I know you'll enjoy his take. You can find more information about Joseph by following the links at the bottom of the page.

Hope – Of Things To Come
By Joseph Lalonde
One of the greatest promises of the Bible is that of things to come. Eternity with our savior. No more pain. No more suffering. The hope of things to come is overwhelming at times.
Hope of things to come can motivate us to continue down the good path. To stay on the straight and narrow. Even when there is no end in sight.
And that is the great paradox of hope to me, at least. That we have to continue to hope until we reach the end. How about you? Do you ever feel that way?
When I begin to lose this hope of things to come, I begin to look at the fathers of our faith. Those that walked and talked with Jesus.
Knowing there were men and women who walked with Jesus. Seen him in the flesh. Knew him face to face.
They faced the same issues we faced with our doubts. They had a hard time believing that He had risen until they seen the wounds.
But many of them faced worse situations than we have. At least in the USA.
The disciples faced persecutions far greater than we do. They faced death and many met with crucifixion and other forms of cruel death.
Yet they had hope. They knew what was to come. Through all of the pain and suffering. They knew their reward was on the other side of eternity.
When I look at their troubles and the troubles in my life, I begin to get a new appreciation and hope for the life I have and the life to come.
The money woes, the relationship issues, the time constraints. They all pale in comparison to the trials and tribulations the great men of the Bible faced.
Why? Because of the hope given to them by Jesus Christ. Once they saw the risen Christ they KNEW what they had. They gave their lives to spread the message.
Let their hope become your hope. Let their faith seep into yours. Let their passion become your passion.
Then you will see their hope in your hope.
Question: How do you keep the hope of things to come clear in your mind? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

 Joseph Lalonde is a youth leader at Oak Crest Church of God, he also writes a blog www.jmlalonde.com where he shares leadership tools and encourages you to become a better leader. Connect with him on Twitter or at his blog.